Geography Notes

International Economic Co-operation of West African state (ECOWAS)

The economic community of West African states (ECOWAS) is a sub-regional organization formed by West African countries mainly to promote co-operation and development in all economic fields and to contribute to the progress and development of the African continent.            

                                               ORIGIN OF ECOWAS

The treaty called Lagos treaty formally establishing ECOWAS was signed on May 28th 1975 in Lagos, when the head of states and governments of fifteen independent states of West Africa converged in Lagos, where they signed the treaty. Guinea Bissau later joined to make up sixteen countries. The idea of establishing ECOWAS was conceived by the heads of states of Nigeria and Togo in 1973.

                                                         MEMBERSHIP OF ECOWAS   

There are sixteen member-states (countries) that make up ECOWAS. These are Nigeria, Togo, Benin Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Gambia, Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Cape Verde.


The administrative or secretariat is located in Abuja, Nigeria while the financial headquarters is in Lomen, Togo. The headquarters was formally in Lagos before taking to Abuja

                                                        THE ORGAN OF ECOWAS

  1. The authority of the head of states and governments is composed of all the fifteen heads of states of the member states. It is highest decision making body.
  2. The council of ministers is made up of two members of two member states. The council monitors the functioning and development of the community and make recommendation to the authority.
  3. The executive secretariat performs the administrative functions of the community.

The seat of the secretariat is Abuja,Nigeria.

  • The tribunal of the community is charged with the functions of interpreting the treaty and ensusing the observance of law and justice.
  • The technical and specialized commissions include:

i. The trade, customs , immigration , monetary and payment commission .

ii. The transport , communication and energy commission

iii. The Industry , Agriculture and Natural Resources commission

iv. The Social and Cultural Affairs commission

v. The Defence commission


  1. Development of common market
  2. Free movement of people
  3. Trade liberalization
  4. Cultural integration
  5. Educational integration
  6. Educational interaction
  7. Scientific / technical cooperation
  8. Military cooperation
  9. Promotion of unity
  10. Right to settle anywhere
  11. Development of international communication
  12. Promotion of sports


The following problems have limited the achievements of ECOWAS

  1. Similarity of products
  2. Fears of domination
  3. Difference in political ideology
  4. Non- payment of due
  5. Non-implementation of programmes
  6. Language barriers
  7. Differences in currency
  8. Allegiance to former colonial master
  9. Political instability
  10. Problem of transportation
  11. Problem of debt burden  


  1. Diversification of production
  2. Payment of dues
  3. Resolution and programmes
  4. Common currency
  5. Trade liberalization
  6. Teaching of modern language
  7. Free movement
  8. Political stability
  9. Detach from colonial masters
  10. Commitment  

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